There is often confusion about the role and definition of a pain management specialist in the media, the general population, and even amongst other medical professionals. First, a pain management specialist physician is NOT a physician who chooses to prescribe opiates for chronic pain when other physicians no longer wish to prescribe them nor is a pain specialist a physician who has taken a few continuing medical education hours in pain management. In the current state of the opioid crisis in the United States, the media and the masses often confuse a physician who writes narcotics as their primary mode of practice with a well-trained, board-certified specialist in the field of pain management.
A pain specialist IS a physician who has obtained a medical degree, successfully completed all requirements for medical licensure, completed a primary residency (usually in anesthesiology, physical medicine and rehab, and occasionally neurology) and then completed additional training in the form of a fellowship in pain management. Complete training in pain management takes approximately 13 years including undergraduate education. Finally, a fully trained pain management physician will generally take the time and effort to show their competency in the field by obtaining board certification in both their primary field of specialization (ie anesthesiology) and secondary certification in their subspecialty of pain management by an ABMS recognized board. With internet access, it is very easy to verify the training and certification of any physician.
A pain management physician is trained in the management of medications, including opioids for the management of chronic painful conditions, however most well trained pain management physicians use interventional procedures (injections), physical therapy, psychotherapy, chiropractics and other treatment modalities to reduce or illuminate the need for narcotic medications. In more severe cases, implantable devices such as spinal cord stimulators and intrathecal pain pumps can be used to treat those who suffer with chronic pain. If you are not being treated by a board certified pain specialist you are likely not being offered all of the latest procedures and technological advances available to those suffering from chronic pain. A well-trained pain management physician aids in fighting the opioid epidemic.
The physicians of Alliance Spine and Pain, that have chosen to devote all or part of their practice to the South Fulton and South Atlanta Metro Area, Dr. Pickens A. Patterson, III and Dr. Zwade Marshall are both double-board certified in anesthesiology and pain medicine by the American Board of Anesthesiology. Dr. Marshall completed his training at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (Harvard University) and I, Dr. Pickens A. Patterson, III completed my training at Vanderbilt University. We invite you to make an appointment and experience the relief you have been seeking from your chronic pain using the most up to date methods and technology.